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The History of Ashton-Drake Galleries

June 8, 2017 , In: Behind the Scenes , With: 13 Comments
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Doll collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the history of the world. Unlike other collectibles, dolls delight and comfort, and open up our imaginations to create new stories with each interaction. For over 32 years, The Ashton-Drake Galleries has been serving the collectible doll community with the most exquisite doll creations. Our collectible dolls span a wide range of themes and topics, from babies to brides and celebrities.

Another factor that differentiates an Ashton-Drake collectible doll from other brands, is that we’re always incorporating new doll types and materials. We use artist’s resin and porcelain, but we’ve also developed our own proprietary RealTouch® vinyl and TrueTouch™ silicone.

The secret ingredient though, the extra added magic that each one of our collectible dolls exudes, comes from our Master Doll Artists. We believe that the most important characteristic of any doll is the artist. The artist is who gives each special creation life and personality. And over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the best in the field.

Here’s a timeline of some of our favorite collaborations:

1985: Yolanda Bello created “Jason” – the first-ever limited-edition porcelain doll offered by The Ashton-Drake Galleries. A year later, she brought “Matthew” to life. Matthew remains our best-selling porcelain baby doll to date.

1989: Dianna Effner created Little Red Riding Hood, whose wonderful facial expressiveness captured the hearts of collectors, and established the successful fairy-tale and storybook doll categories for Ashton-Drake.

1991: Kathy Barry-Hippensteel created “Tickles,” an adorable porcelain toddler boy being tickled by a caterpillar on his arm, a definite milestone in expressive sculpting.

1993: Pat Joho and Etta Foran created “Mommy, Can I Keep Him?” – one of Ashton-Drake’s earliest and most successful ventures in the category of collectible artist teddy bears, and a true innovation in the plush market.

1995: Mel Odom brought to life the ever classy Gene Marshall, a line of fashion dolls, outfits and accessories inspired by the 1940s and 1950s.

1997: Titus Tomescu created “First Day at Walt Disney World,” our first porcelain child doll created under the coveted Disney license.

1999: Sandra Bilotto created the glamorous “Winter Romance” doll, with stunning sculpting and innovative fur-trimmed bridal costuming.  Winter Romance went on to win multiple awards in the doll industry!

2003: Linda Webb created “Emily’s Homecoming,” our first So Truly Real doll. Emily is crafted from our patented soft-to-the-touch RealTouch® vinyl, and her baby hair was attached using a new technique, all of which contribute to her realism. Emily was pivotal for us, as she shaped Ashton-Drake’s future in the vinyl collectible baby doll market.

2005: Andrea Arcello creates “Ashley,” our first collectible vinyl doll that “breathes.” The gentle rise and fall of Ashley’s inhale and exhale is both peaceful and wonderous.

2011: Linda Murray brings us “Olivia’s Gentle Touch,” our first interactive collectible baby doll who curls her hand around your finger. Olivia won a DOTY (Doll of the Year) award in 2012.


2015
: Linda Murray collaborated with us to introduce the So Truly Mine™ baby doll line, specifically created for children ages 3 and up to play with. These sweet creations are specially sized at 15 inches and weighted to feel incredibly real in a little girl’s arms.

Other Master Doll Artists we’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with over the past 32 years include: Wendy Lawton, Julie Goodkrueger, Gabby Rademann, Mary Tretter, Joan Ibarall, Elly Knoops, Waltraud Hanl, Cheryl Hill, Sheila Michael, Ping Lau, and Sherry Rawn.

So to those we’ve worked with, and those who’ve supported us over the years, thank you. None of us would be here without the creativity of our artists, and our customers. Our new blog is dedicated to you.

Have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you!  Please feel free to leave us a comment below, or drop us an email any time.

  1. Reply

    Oh, I love blogs, and I love Ashton Drake dolls. So glad to see them together. 🙂

      • Melissa Anne Miller
      • August 7, 2017
      Reply

      We love you! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Phyllis Canniff
    • August 4, 2017
    Reply

    I have all of Yolando Bello’s except Jason. Would love to be able to find him to complete my set.

      • Melissa Anne Miller
      • August 7, 2017
      Reply

      Yolando Bello’s work is just amazing. Hope you find your Jason!

    • Barb
    • August 5, 2017
    Reply

    I love to reborn them. They are so awesome.
    Thanks

    • Carol Pattterson
    • August 6, 2017
    Reply

    I love my AD dolls. First one from back on the day was baby girl by Lee Middleton. Now have 8 with latest one being No ha. Unfortunately he quit turning his head ,but AD being the awesome company it is has a new one on the way.

      • Melissa Anne Miller
      • August 7, 2017
      Reply

      We’re so glad our dolls have such a good home!

    • Peggy Weber
    • September 6, 2017
    Reply

    I love my Ashton Drake dolls. I would have so many more if I could only afford them. I treat them like my babies babies. They get covered up. At night and told Goo Night at bedtime.. I Love my Babies.

    • Mary smith
    • September 12, 2017
    Reply

    Love them..I’m getting a Linda Webb doll Named Katie. Bought over 10 yrs ago..would love to find more info on her if i can plz ty

      • Melissa Anne Miller
      • November 13, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Mary, if you send me a quick email at adgblog@ashtondrake.com, I can try and dig up some info for you!

  2. Reply

    Hello to all at Ashton Drake. , It is a joy to be able to own the babies I own , all from your company. I have given many of them to my grown children to hand down to their children as a legacy when I am Gone. However , at the time I am enjoying the eight that I have kept and love so dearly. I have 2 of the silicone babies that I don’t count as my eight , so that is actually 10 of your Babies. I buy clothes for them , and have a set of twins,which is truly adorable to interact with. I can’t say enough about how these little creations have made my life so much happier. I am a widow of 12 yrs. I bought my 1st. baby ( welcome Home Emily) over 15 yrs. ago , at least. , and have just kept adding to them . If I were a rich woman, this is where I would spend all my money , at “Ashton Drake”..I would need a larger home , ’cause I would need a huge nursery . I love them , and rock , and dress them as the weather changes in clothes that is suitable for the weather. .I have beautiful Blankets for winter for Boy and girl. My friends just can’t believe they aren’t real babies. They (my babies have an entire Bed room to them selves. I could never say which one I love the most, because each one has a personality of their own that I Love. I want to say to any one that needs to have a Hobby that gives you a lot of Love in return for the money you spend, this is what you need!!! Just go to “Aston Drake” and you will have a little one you can cradle in your arms, and when you hold it you feel as if you are holding a real Baby . I am not off my Rocker by no means, I just found a Hobby and a Love for these little Angels that fill a place in my heart and my life, that I am so Grateful for . My Thanks to Ashton Drake, and all your wonderful Artists of these Babies, that bring so much happiness and pleasure to so many people. God Bless You and keep making those Babies , Many Thanks, Allura Kowalski, from Pound Wi.

      • Melissa Anne Miller
      • November 13, 2017
      Reply

      I am so glad to hear how much love your babies bring you! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  3. Reply

    I love the AD dolls. I have been buying them for a long time. The only thing I don’t like is their hands. They always look too big.

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Melissa Anne Miller

Welcome to the Ashton-Drake Galleries Blog! Join me in celebrating the joys of doll collecting, from sweet baby dolls to portrait dolls and more, each lovingly created by acclaimed Master Doll Artists. I'll also be sharing useful tips for caring for your Ashton-Drake dolls and more. Stay tuned!